Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright Page, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xiv

Dostoevsky was my earliest literary love. His name was for me synonymous with literature itself, literature was synonymous with religion, and religion was inseparable from the conviction that politics was a matter of ethical rather than pragmatic action. To read Dostoevsky as I first did, naively, was to be inhabited by the voices of his characters, by their ideas and their passions. These voices elicited the widest spectrum of emotional-intellectual response...

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-28

Just as he was preparing to write the penultimate book of his last novel, The Brothers Karamazov, and suffering from poor health, F. M. Dostoevsky received an invitation to address the Society of Lovers of Russian Literature at their June 1880 celebration of the poet Alexander Pushkin. The significance of this three-day event was by no means confined to what it purported to be: an occasion to bring together the nation’s most prominent writers, artists, actors, journalists, editors, and intellectuals...

Part 1. Building Out the House of the Dead

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 29-30

read more

1. "Why Is This Man Alive?": The Unconsummated Conversion

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 31-41

The story of Dostoevsky’s “mock execution” at the sadistic pleasure of Tsar Nicholas I is bizarre and therefore notorious. Arrested in April 1849 for his participation in the Petrashevsky circle, a group dedicated to discussion of European revolution and the possibilities of Russian reform, specifically the emancipation of the enslaved peasantry, the twenty-seven-year- old writer languished in the Peter and Paul Fortress until December 22...

read more

2. The Disarticulation of the Autobiographical Self

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 41-50

The circularity imposed on the text by the prefatory narrator, by which the ending of Gorianchikov’s memoir entails a return to its postscript located in the introduction, mimics the circularity characteristic of conversion narratives. That Notes from the House of the Dead conforms in some respects to the narratological profile of the conversion narrative is evident in the following description included in John Freccero’s discussion of St. Augustine’s Confessions...

read more

3. Opposites That Do Not Attract (the Bezdna and Poetic Truth) and Opposites That Do (Estrangement and Conversion)

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 50-61

In place of the central syntactic moment at the core of the conversion narrative where beginnings and endings, linear evolution and circular identity, coincide, Notes from the House of the Dead possesses a substitute structure equipped with its own tautological coherence: the bezdna. This is the word Gorianchikov uses to denote both the multitude of surpassingly strange events, utterances, and personalities that shock him throughout... the period of his incarceration...

read more

4. The Dostoevskian "As If": Self-Deception in Autobiography

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 61-72

How does one track the impact of self-deception upon the representation of the self in a first-person narrative? If the pilgrim is not yet the poet, although he claims to be, where does the reader begin to apprehend that discrepancy? One place to begin is with Gorianchikov’s representations of the genesis of his estrangement, not for the purpose of questioning its authenticity but in order to understand the flexibility that self-deception...

read more

5. The Narrator's Eclipse

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 72-82

Gorianchikov’s most concentrated effort at a “graphic understanding” of crime and punishment occurs in the prison hospital, where the exchange of guards posted in the corridor outside the ward awakens him, causing him to overhear Shishkov’s appalling confession. Before this event, bedridden, he had had the leisure and opportunity to conduct some pointed inquiries...

read more

6. Dostoevsky's Poetics of Conviction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 82-90

By specifying Gorianchikov’s crime as the murder of a wife out of jealousy in the first year of marriage, the prefatory narrator announces the absolute centrality of “Akul’ka’s Husband” to Gorianchikov’s memoirs. He hints at a fearful symmetry: as he himself personifies (and thus externalizes) Gorianchikov’s executioner within whose malignity is directed inward upon the self, he announces Shishkov as the double’s double...

Part 2. Building Out the House of the Dead

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 91-92

read more

1. The Chronotope of Katorga

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 93-96

The sequential sentences Dostoevsky received on 22 December 1849 in Semenovsky Square with their two scenarios of punishment—the sentence of death commuted to exile and penal servitude—transformed his life radically in the space of an afternoon. Although the writer’s death did not literally occur, one may speak of three experiential variations on it that disallow our thinking of death here as a mere figure...

read more

2. Exception, Equality, Emancipation

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 96-105

Russian political modernity may be said to begin in 1855, midway through Dostoevsky’s decade of exile, with the transition from the repressive regime of the infamously autocratic Nicholas I (itself launched in 1825 by the rebellion of enlightened aristocrats known as the Decembrists) to that of the “Tsar-Liberator,” the liberal and reform-minded Alexander II...

read more

3. Ontological Ambiguity in the Space of Exception: Katorga as Medium

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 105-115

The archetypal function of the sovereign’s creation of a state of exception, as both Carl Schmitt and Agamben after him maintain, had been to “trac[e] a threshold” between what is inside the juridico-political order and what is outside, between “the normal situation and chaos,” and, as such, it was “essentially unlocalizable,” a “zone of indistinction.”47 At the same time, of course, “definite spatiotemporal limits” can be and, in the course of history, have been attached to this zone...

read more

4. The Ontology of Crime: Testimony/Confession

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 115-139

Gorianchikov identifies crime as the fundamental mystery of life in the house of the dead in the opening chapter of his memoir. From the outset, it is implicitly but unmistakably a problem associated with the other and with the unintelligibility of the other, primarily the peasant. Even though we have just read the prefatory narrator’s account of his crime—“he murdered his wife while still in the first year of marriage...

read more

5. The Flesh of the Political

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 140-169

In Notes from the House of the Dead, Dostoevsky creates an artistic image of a particular experience of selfhood in which the subject finds himself in a space and a time between a former existence that is dead to him and a future existence that has not materialized. He has been rendered a ne to—neither this nor that—for an incalculable period, and cannot know positively if he will ever return to what he was or become something else altogether, something inconceivable...

read more

Conclusion

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 170-196

In the passage from “Bookishness and Literacy” cited at the conclusion of part 2, Dostoevsky identifies the populist discourse and practice of the liberal Russian elite as a prime example of “bookishness” (knizhnost’), an official discourse of power and knowledge. “Literacy” (gramotnost’), in contrast, describes another type of knowledge altogether: unarticulated and unprogrammatic, inseparable from experience and lodged in the flesh...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 197-250

Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 251-262

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 263-275